How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching 2nd Edition

Author(s) Sue Cowley
Publisher Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
Published 2009
Pages 224
Price £15.99
ISBN 9781847064714
Reviewed by Dr Liane Purnell
Newman University College
Review published 9 April 2009

I approached this book with glee as I enjoy Sue Cowley’s work and my students actually read her work. In fact I reserved it for review as soon as I saw it listed, even though that meant completing another review first. This book was initially published in 1988 and was revised for publication in 2009. The back cover suggests that it contains ‘new and improved survival tactics for the newly qualified teacher’. I was hoping that I could recommend it to my exiting ITE students on both undergraduate and post/professional graduate courses, and I was not disappointed in this hope. It is very accessible, and, in fact, when I took it away with me for a weekend one of my non teacher friends picked it up and would not return it until they had completed the chapter on staff, enjoying it with palpable glee and still talking about it the day after!

The contents list is detailed and coherent and divided into 6 parts: ‘getting started’, ‘you and your classroom’, ‘climbing the paper mountain’, ‘it’s all about people’, ‘just part of the job’ and ‘onwards and upwards’. To take just one of these, such as ‘you and your classroom’, its usefulness is illustrated by the sub headings: behaviour management, teaching and learning and pastoral care. These are further sub divided, for example teaching and learning contains sections on: effective teaching and learning, the importance of aims and objectives, a model first lesson, lessons for the tired teacher, dealing with differentiation, finding resources, using displays, assessment and taking care of yourself.

The book works as one which you read from cover to cover or as one you can dip into as required. It does not have a major focus on either primary or secondary and, as such, its use is amplified. It has a continued emphasis on the practical, for example the section on learning names explains why you need to, suggests many ways in which you can do this, and addresses ‘the delicate art of bluff’ for secondary, seen once a fortnight classes.

I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the section on ten tried and tested teaching tips, beginning, as it does with that golden rule ‘wait for them’ and insisting that you do until you have the attention of all. Each tip is backed up by a clear rationale and ways/hints on how to achieve it. It appears to have firm and secure grounding in a number of behaviour management theories, albeit not made explicit. These are certainly tips I try to instil in my students.

I was slightly surprised that, despite the fact that it was revised in 2009 it did not include much reference to the newly revised curriculum, especially in relation to secondary. Having said this, it does not detract from the overall content or intention.

There is a useful list of teaching jargon in appendix one, and equally useful internet links in appendix two.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book highly to all exiting ITE students and found it easily accessible.